Thoughtful Parenting: On a new path
For Steamboat Pilot & Today
When talking about schools and education, it’s common to hear how our children are “falling behind.” As an educator, this seems a little off the mark to me. Exactly who are they falling behind? We have no measure to compare students who have faced such major changes to their daily lives due to a global pandemic. There are no groups of children who have previously followed this path to compare the data. Children have gone through many adjustments and encountered challenges along the way.
A new path
Our children are now on a new path and will set new milestones and create new data. Even in our county, school has looked vastly different for children. As parents, we may benefit from a shift in mindset for us and our children. A lot of the conversation about school from the media suggests we should be afraid our children will never catch up, but if they are on a trail that has never been traveled, there is no one ahead to catch up to. Maybe we could shift our mindset on this new path to seek out children’s strengths and identify specific challenges to bolster with support.
Let’s look at our children from a place of curiosity. In what ways have they grown in the past year? A child’s strengths can change over time. What activities are they naturally drawn to and which ones bring them joy? Amanda Morin has created a list of possible strengths in her article, “Types of Strengths,” on Understood.org.
The idea of strengths-based parenting is that parents tune into their child’s strengths and encourage development of these strengths. This could be a good fit for you and your family if you feel like you have been spending more time focused on your child’s challenges and weaknesses. I am not suggesting we ignore a child’s challenges, but there is more of a balance of focusing on strengths, especially at this time. Paying attention to children’s strengths can help build their self-esteem and confidence.
Our children need to see themselves as competent and successful in order to overcome the challenges in their lives. We can help them have grit and determination on the new path they’re on by recognizing the areas in which they are thriving and not by only focusing on where they are supposedly “falling behind.”
Kim Schulz is the executive director and part of the team of reading experts at Steamboat Reading, a nonprofit that provides a community of support for struggling readers and their families. They are part of the Routt County Youth Services Coalition. Visit SteamboatReading.org.
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